Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 16 – Holding Myself Captive

It hit me this week that the Great Wall marathon is only four weeks away. After I splurged and ate a chocolate bar, I got to thinking and realized maybe I need to adjust some of my own expectations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Along with Andrew Read and Narisa Wild, Julie Warren will be sharing her training experiences for upcoming endurance challenges. Follow Julie as she prepares for her next adventure – the Great Wall of China Marathon! Julie’s journals will be posted on Saturdays.

Athlete Journal: Julie Warren, Entry 16 – Holding Myself Captive

It’s just around the corner now. In only four weeks, I’ll be in China preparing to run one of the most incredible races of my life. I’ll be with some of my best friends, checking off a huge bucket list item, and testing my own self-experimentation training style out on a seriously demanding course. I should be ecstatic and giddy with excitement right now. I should be counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until I’m on that plane to Beijing.

Instead, I’m busy dealing with everyday real-life stuff that’s somehow accelerating in complexity while occasionally managing to remember to do the little things I need to do just to make it on that plane. “Oh yeah, right, I need to get a Chinese visa.” “Vaccinations? What exactly is Japanese encephalitis?” Yes, I’m about to spill my guts about some serious first-world problems here. This is no pity party. I know quite well just how good I have it. I am blessed beyond measure, for sure. I guess I just imagine that there are a number of people out there (hello, fellow amateur athletes) who might be able to relate to my current ‘situation.’

How is it that despite having had this race on my calendar for nearly nine months, the complexity of my life didn’t really get to the ‘critical’ level until the crucial weeks leading up to the race? Has this happened to anyone else? Maybe I’m just more aware of it now, or perhaps the universe really is out to get me, or perhaps it’s all a coincidence. Who knows? I guess since I can’t control what’s being thrown at me, what really matters is how I choose to deal with it. I am well aware that my decision to eat an enormous dark chocolate salted caramel bar wasn’t my best course of action for dealing with life stress, but I make no apologies for it (and yes, it was incredible).

After polishing off the chocolate bar and wallowing in a bit of stressed-out self-pity, I took a good hard look at my current ‘situation.’ “How will I do everything I need to do in the next four weeks and still get all my training accomplished? How can I find the right balance? Is it even possible to balance it all? Maybe I should just nap it over and address this later?” No. I have an incredible opportunity in front of me in running the Great Wall Marathon. This is an opportunity that has absolutely zero expectations attached to it, other than those I’ve placed on myself. And well, there it is. That’s the problem. I’m holding myself captive. Who cares if I don’t get every single one of my workouts accomplished in the weeks leading up to the race? I am not a professional athlete, nor am I aspiring to be one. There will be certain personal and professional obligations I will have to meet in the coming weeks and it might cost me some time in the gym or on the trails. And that’s okay.

I’m really quite happy with where my training currently stands, and if I can even just maintain this for the next four weeks, I will be thrilled. The biggest task for me right now is to remember that this race, this journey, this experience is something I’m doing for fun. Work is a necessity, family is a priority, and running is a luxury. If I can keep that in mind these next few weeks, I’ll be good to go.

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